Mar 3, 2013 / 7:10 am
Alberta aboriginals are lining up against an energy project deemed crucial to the BC economy.
At least six bands in the northern part of the province, supported by the Alberta government, have registered major concerns with BC Hydro's plans to build another dam on the Peace River, saying the utility still hasn't understood the effects of previous projects on the Athabasca Delta and refuses to study them.
"It's a very, very narrow approach to environmental assessment and we have so much concern," said Melody Lepine, spokeswoman for the Mikisew Cree.
BC Hydro is currently accepting public comments on the environmental assessment of its proposed Site C Dam, which would be located south of Fort St. John. The project would generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity and require a dam a kilometre long and 60 metres high, creating an 83-kilometre reservoir about three times the current width of the river.
But the Alberta bands point out Site C would be BC Hydro's third dam on the river. The giant Bennett Dam is further upstream.
They say the provincially owned company is refusing to look at the cumulative effects of those dams. They're angry that BC Hydro isn't including the delta in its study area, despite abundant evidence that BC's dams are causing big problems in Alberta.
"By not including the delta in their assessment they can't mitigate potential impacts," said Lepine. "They don't even care.
"That's the biggest issue for us, just include the delta."
The Bennett Dam was built in the 1960s, before environmental assessments were required. None was conducted.
But research since has documented significant impacts from the dam on the Athabasca Delta, despite being hundreds of kilometres downstream.
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